You may remember the story from just after Christmas of the two Consumerist readers who weren’t told their reservation on Hotels.com was non-refundable until after they’d requested a refund. After the story appeared here, it looks like the site saw the error of its ways and has refunded the money.
For those not familiar with the story: Kate had called Hotels.com’s 1-800 number for guidance on booking a hotel room in NYC. The helpful CSR not only helped her select a hotel, but also did the booking over the phone. He did not, however, at any time mention that this hotel does not offer refunds on rooms booked through Hotels.com, nor was this fact mentioned in the e-mail receipt sent to Kate.
Making matters worse, when it looked like she was going to have to cancel her reservation, Kate first called Hotels.com to confirm she could get a refund. A CSR told her yes, so she called JetBlue and canceled the flight reservations. It wasn’t until after calling back to actually cancel her room that Hotels.com pointed out the no-refund policy.
After several e-mails with Hotels.com, the company offered Kate and her fellow travelers a $100 coupon for future use on the site. The travelers replied that this was unacceptable and continued to fight. Ultimately, Hotels.com says it was able to contact the hotel and “advocate for a refund for your cancelled [sic] reservation,” which means Kate will get her full refund.
While we love happy endings (Get your mind out of the gutter!), Kate’s story should also be a lesson to anyone booking travel online or over the phone, especially through third-parties. Be 100% sure you are aware of the refund/change/cancellation policies for your airline and hotel before handing over that credit card number.